Wheat farming is one of the most profitable farming ventures in the world. Globally, wheat farming takes up the lion’s share when we look at all food crops. In terms of cereal crops, wheat trails behind maize at number two, which is the most grown cereal on earth. Wheat is a significant food crop because of its high starch content. This makes it an integral part of the dietary composition of several nations. Chances are sky high that most people daily consume food made from wheat. How wheat farming is done is the focus of our article plus other relevant details.
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Optimum Weather And Soil Conditions
Wheat farming is well-suited for winter – it is a winter crop. The best temperatures for wheat to grow optimally range between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. It is possible for certain wheat varieties to be grown in seasons like summer. This, however, is a period that is characterised by a series of challenges, particularly weeds and diseases. It is worth mentioning here that irrigation is central to wheat farming.
Farming wheat can be done in several different kinds of soils. Key to note is that the soils ought to have good drainage and depth. A pH of anything spanning from 5.5 to 6.5 is considered optimum for wheat farming. The soil moisture content should also be good. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and other essential trace nutrients must be well constituted in the soil. The content of organic material in the soil is also of utmost importance – it must be substantial.
Wheat farming entails two broad categories of land preparation. One is termed conventional land preparation where a number of steps are undertaken. It starts off with ploughing which can be done using ripping ploughs or chisel ploughs. Addition of lime and or basal fertilizer then follows. This is then followed by the soil being worked by disc harrows and rollers thereafter. Bear in mind that these two can be done alongside – it is even faster that way. The other method of land preparation is termed conservational land preparation. This one entails no or minimal working of the soil – usually done by huge proponents of environmental sustainability.
We have already highlighted that wheat farming is a winter crop venture. Thus planting is normally done at the onset of winter. Planting a little while later can be risky ultimately. The actual times will differ from region to region given how winter seasons occur at different times. Anyways, it is crucially important that planting be done in such a way that the wheat reaches maturity before summer sets in. This is largely because summer can come in with downpours that can comprise the subsequent quality of the wheat. Do not also forget that we mentioned the downsides of wheat farming in summer. This is because of the incidences of pest, disease and weed problems. Obviously early planting results in early harvests so that is another upside. It is also important because some of the critically important stages of wheat farming occur best when the weather is predominantly cool or cold.
Let us also look at aspects to do with seeds in wheat farming. The amount of seed required depends on the sowing method to be used. This is also informed by adhering to recommended stipulations. For instance, it is recommended that there be approximately 250 wheat plants in every square metre. Depending on the sowing method, anything ranging from 110 kilograms to 135 kilograms of seed per hectare would be ideal.
Irrigation is a central feature of wheat farming. The irrigation method mainly used is that of overhead sprinklers. Alternatively you can use centre pivots. Irrigation is so vital to promoting seed germination. That is why irrigation should be done sometime at a point 5 days after seeds have been sown. It is recommended to irrigate sometime at a point 2 or so weeks after germination has occurred. After those two initial points irrigation must be done in relation to how much water the wheat crops are using. This is informed mainly by the type of soil that is being used. Soils which retain water well mean that irrigation can be done roughly every 2 weeks. Soils with poor water retention can actually connote that irrigation should be done every 7 days.
Application Of Fertilizers
Top dressing fertilizer is introduced about 3 weeks after germination. It is important to apply it after some minimal irrigation in order to make it easy for it to dissolve into the soil. Bear in mind that this will be at a time just after the hardening stage we mentioned moments ago. Rich soils only need a single application of top dressing fertilizer. Sandy soils need two applications – the second one should be around 3 weeks after the first one. NPK and basal fertilizers are also necessary. Specific amounts are a function of the state of the soil’s fertility. Lab services should be sought in order get soil samples analysed so as to apply the right amounts of fertilizers.
The emergence of secondary stems during wheat farming takes place roughly a month or so after germination. There is stage called a hardening stage where crown root growth and tillering commence. During this stage irrigation is halted for a period that can span up to 2 weeks depending on the soil type. There is also a flowering stage which takes on average 2 to 3 months. Later on there is what we call a grain filling stage – takes at least 3 months. Typically, wheat takes either 7 or 8 months to mature.
After, on average, 7 to 8 months wheat will be ready for harvesting. Harvesting wheat is best done when it is dry and sunny. This is usually around summer time but remember it should not be late summer or times when the risks of downpours is high. Read this article : Harvesting Wheat for more information.
If you are contemplating venturing into wheat farming, do not hesitate to do so. The return on investment is extremely high – at least 100 percent at optimum production levels. Imagine getting a possible yield of as much as 11 tonnes per hectare.